Preview: Inter Milan vs. Liverpool

Preview: Inter Milan vs. Liverpool

An eagerly-anticipated Champions League contest will take place at San Siro on Wednesday night, when Scudetto holders Inter Milan play host to six-time European champions Liverpool for the first leg of their last-16 tie.

The Reds were one of three teams in this year’s competition who completed the group stage with a 100% record, while the Nerazzurri finished second behind Real Madrid.

For the first time in a decade, Inter Milan will be competing in the knockout rounds of the Champions League, and while hopes are high of progressing to the latter stages of the competition, they will have a difficult task in overcoming one of the tournament favourites Liverpool over two legs.

As mentioned earlier, Simone Inzaghi’s side finished second in Group D with 10 points from their six matches, five points behind group winners Real Madrid. The Nerazzurri won home and away against tournament debutants Sheriff Tiraspol and secured four points from their two encounters with Shakhtar Donetsk, but they were unable to claim any points or score against Los Blancos.

Inter head into Wednesday’s contest after failing to win their last two Serie A matches, losing 2-1 to city rivals AC Milan and drawing 1-1 with Napoli last weekend. These results have seen Inzaghi’s men knocked off their perch at the summit by Milan, but they do have a game in hand.

The Nerazzurri will be keen to bounce back with a positive result in midweek, though grinding out results against English clubs in Europe has proven challenging over the years.

Since the 2003-04 campaign, Inter have been eliminated from two of their previous three two-legged knockout ties against English opposition; all three of these have been in the last 16, suffering defeat against Liverpool in 2007-08 and Manchester United in 2008-09, before losing out to Chelsea in 2009-10.

Inter will face another tough challenge on Wednesday but their home form should provide them with confidence, as they have lost only three of their 30 competitive matches at San Siro across all competitions since the beginning of 2021.

Liverpool extended their winning run across all competitions to six matches with a slender 1-0 success in the Premier League away at basement club Burnley last weekend.

Fabinho’s close-range strike on the stroke of half time helped Jurgen Klopp’s men move back to within nine points of league leaders Manchester City, and the Reds have a game in hand.

Liverpool now turn their attention to the Champions League and they will be hoping to improve on their last two knockout performances in the competition. Since clinching their sixth European crown in 2018-19, the Reds have been eliminated in the last 16 against Atletico Madrid in 2019-20, before losing out in the quarter-finals to Real Madrid last season.

This campaign, Klopp’s rampant side have been in formidable form, scoring 17 goals and winning all six of their Group B matches, including both encounters with Inter’s rivals AC Milan. Liverpool could become just the second team after Tottenham Hotspur in 2010-11 to win against both Inter and AC Milan in the same season, if they were to prevail on Wednesday or in next month’s second leg.

Liverpool’s midweek clash will be their fifth against Inter in European competition; the Reds suffered a 4-3 aggregate defeat in the semi-finals of the 1964-65 European Cup – the same season Inter went on to win the trophy – before getting their revenge 43 years later in the last 16 of the 2007-08 Champions League, winning 3-0 on aggregate thanks to strikes from Dirk Kuyt, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

Liverpool were initially set to face Red Bull Salzburg in the last 16, before a UEFA fiasco in December’s draw proceedings forced a re-draw to take place, with the Reds now facing Inter Milan. A two-legged contest with the Nerazzurri will be viewed by Reds supporters as a more challenging affair as opposed to facing Salzburg, but nevertheless, Klopp and co will still be strong favourites to come out on top.

Inter Milan Champions League form:
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Inter Milan form (all competitions):
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Liverpool Champions League form:
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Liverpool form (all competitions):
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We say: Inter Milan 1-2 Liverpool
While Liverpool will be the favourites to win on Wednesday, Inter will also fancy their chances of securing a first-leg advantage in front of their home supporters.

The Reds have conceded in each of their last four Champions League away matches, but they should have enough quality in the final third to outscore their opponents and return to Anfield with a slender lead.

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